For today's episode I was joined by Jordan Woods, Director of Growth Marketing @ Cypress.io. We chat in depth about making the switch from marketing to marketers vs marketing to devs, the mindshift that happens, marketing activities that matter, and the benefits of leaning into a PLG growth model. Dive in. Happy listening! ✌️
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About Demand Gen Chat
Demand Gen Chat is a Chili Piper podcast hosted by Kaylee Edmondson. Join us as we sit down with leaders in marketing to discover the key to driving B2B revenue. If you want benchmarks or insights on trends in the market, this podcast is for you!
Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Demand Gen Chat. I'm your host, Kaylee Edmondson and today we are joined by Jordan Woods, who is the Director of Growth Marketing over at Cypress.io. Welcome.
Thanks. Uh, I appreciate you having me on. I will go ahead and excuse myself if I cough. I have a cough drop in. I've been sick for a little while, it's not COVID, I like to tell people that. But happy to be here.
Yeah. Disclaimers up front.
Will accept full disclaimers-
... COVID or otherwise.
Yeah. You cannot catch COVID through me and through the screen. We're, we're good.
Yeah. We're all safe here. Safety first. Um, so yeah. Look, let's get into it. I wanna start by, um, you just doing a quick little intro about who you are and your journey to get to where you are right now in Cypress.
Yeah. So I started my career, um, in SaaS kind of in a, in a indirect way. Um, I, I actually had joined an ad tech company, um, or I should say it was, it was, initially it was a publisher, a media company. Um, and we had an ad square website that would show programmatic, programmatic ads. And one of the challenges with that is that the quality control was just like it was out of control, we didn't have any way to determine whether or not, uh, people would have like, belly fat ads showing up or whatever it was, there was always just some, like, nasty ad on there.
And so we had built internally a tool to help us monitor that and report them back to the, uh, programmatic exchanges, where we were getting those ads. And that, um, ended up really resonating with a lot of other publishers, they would approach us about it and that's when we sort of said, well, maybe this is actually its own business. And so, um, that was, uh, a really kind of, that was like 2012 to 2015, or something like that. And, um, that was how I was sort of thrust into a marketing role. It's like, I started going and speaking about it and, uh, you know, built, we built a website, and did, did very traditional, um, you know, sorts of content marketing, things along those lines.
Uh, and then I joined the team at FullStory as the, uh, the number two marketing hire at, I think employee number 25. So it's really early days FullStory. Um, and I actually had initially come on in sort of more of a product marketing capacity, and then very quickly realized that, um, while there's a lot of great product marketing work that was happening at FullStory, we were a lot, um, lighter on kind of the growth and demand gen capacities. And at the time, uh, we were doing something that rep- kind of, I guess resembles product led growth before it was really a coined term. Uh, people would just go sign up, get a two week trial and then if they were interested, they could complete the sort of signup process and pay us.
That probably doesn't mean a lot to people on here, but if, if, if you are, uh, interacting with, with, uh, developers, and you were to ask them how they test their code, uh, particularly front end developers, they've probably heard of Cypress, uh, and they've probably, uh, maybe even used Cypress or currently use Cypress. So it's a popular tool. Um, and this is a kind of an interesting, uh, business model, because it is commercial open source, which means that we have our core open source product, and then a, an additional freemium products that people can sign up and use, uh, in addition to the open source product.
And so it's a very, very, uh, product led growth motion, um, in terms of our, our sort of go to market strategy. Uh, it's a lot of fun, getting tons of developers every single month in the door, and then informing them about the, the product that we have that's the freemium and, and, and taking them through the, the, the funnel that way. So that's where I am today. Uh, director of growth marketing there and yeah, really enjoying it.
Yeah. Okay. So before I, um, admit my lack of education on the engineering front, in the role that you're doing now, let's dive in a little bit to FullStory and your opportunity there. Um, obviously, everybody always talks about the grass is greener, and the opportunity to market to marketers is super easy, um, according to what they say, I don't know. I feel like I've always found myself marketing to marketers, so maybe-
Do they say that? I wonder.
Yes, no, I'm serious.
I think everybody-
No, I know, I know.
... says that. Um-
They do, they do.
... I have somehow found myself always marketing to marketers, so maybe that I just like found my lane and I'm stick- sticking in it, I don't know. Um-
You, you know what you are, right? So it is, it is-
I think I know what I am, but I want to talk about your opportunity at FullStory. And obviously being the early, early days, what you saw in terms of growth, how that imp- impacted your role, your p- your personal growth, professional growth, but also just like your impact to that business. Like when you first got there, what was the state of things? What was your like, order of operations for like growing and helping build the team that is still there today?
Yeah, uh, that's a, that's a great question. It's a lot of good, it's a lot of good question. So, and so, um, the first thing I would say that's kind of interesting is like when I, when I joined FullStory, if you were to talk to people that were early on there, um, I would say much like many companies that are out there, I think we assumed things about who our core users were-
... um, that were not actually initially ... like, they, they seemed true initially, right? Everyone talks about product market fit and you feel like as soon as someone pays you for it, you're like, oh, we found our market-
... and that's always the case. Um, so at, at that time, at that point in time, um, it was, you know, I mentioned before, it was people signing up kind of on a monthly basis, swiping their credit card online, and, and, and they were, they were off to the races. The initial idea when I joined was that marketers were definitely a persona, um, but we were talking a lot about like UX designers. And, um, surprisingly, customer support people, which actually still find a lot of value in, in FullStory, but, but they definitely weren't our core audience, um, they, there was a very valuable use case there but that was not really, they weren't the ones, you know, with the purse strings.
And so, um, there was this really interesting evolution there where I would say, um, you know, marketers did find value, but our primary user ended up really being folks that were working in product. And I would say it, y- you know, anyone that was kind of on a digital team could probably find some utility from the product. And so that was, that was kind of an interesting moment, in the early days, where we were talking to a lot of people, uh, we found that UX was really excited, support was really excited, they just didn't typically have the budget nor the institutional or kind of, um, I want to be careful, I'm, I'm hoping nobody that's listening to this would be offended by this. But they didn't have the sway internally, that a lot of other departments had.
And so that was kind of a first big realization there. And that was on, I guess, more of the, the product marketing front, but we would find we get a lot of enthusiasm from, uh, UX folks, and, and they were great brand builders for us-
... like people would come in and really love it, but they weren't actually the core buyer. And we, we found that out, uh, over time and that was sort of an evolution of the messaging, I think, um, I can't speak for where they are today. I've been removed from FullStory for a couple years. But I mean, from, from what I can tell, it seems like that's still, uh, relatively true, that product is really the entry point-
... for, uh, for, for, for the product. Um-
But do you feel like y'all were able to make that feedback loop faster because of the product lead focus, right?
So I feel like, right, with a sales lead motion, it's like me, as a marketer, I think I have my people, these are my people, I need to only be targeting this type of persona, this size company with this much ARR. And so those are the only people I'm going after. So those are the only data points that we have to reference as far as like cycle time and close rate and all those types of things. But with a, a more self serve or free trial product lead motion, y- your gates are a little bit wider, right? So you have so many data points to be able to optimize faster based on who your people really are, if your initial gut is like a little bit off.
So that's a fantastic point. And I'm going to try to articulate a thought that you may have just articulated better than I will, so we'll, we'll see.
And then maybe, maybe you can edit my comment out. But, um, the, you know, you bring up something that's really important, and I think it is, it is an unheralded, um, benefit of product lead growth. So what ends up happening is, um, you know, you do a sales letter marketing lead motion and you have this laser focus on your ICP, you know who they are, you know how much you're willing to spend to actually get them to use the product. And then you kind of have, have the temptation to ignore most other people, uh, e-
... particularly if you're, you know, your, your feeding leads to a sales team, because you recognize that's just not going to make you money.
Um, that is like I, I would say, I- it seems counterintuitive, but one of the benefits is that if you were, um, to, to kind of appeal to your motion is that to your point, you have these really wide open gates, and anybody can come in and use it. One of the hardest things to quantify is the value of brand or awareness, and how word of mouth works, because it's an offline interaction. Like it goes back to the, the classic, like multi touch attribution problem, like everyone tries to get it right and understand how every single thing, uh, actually should, you know, like, how, how should you attribute, um, value to different activities. And one of the hardest things to do is, is word of mouth, right? It's like, how could you possibly understand that?
Anecdotally, we had so many instances where people that did end up becoming paying customers in large organizations, they had heard about FullStory from somebody that we viewed as a non core like persona, it would be that designer or that support person, and they'd use it previously a smaller company. While I was there, we launched FullStory Free and that was the entire purpose of it, is it, it was an acquisition play, it wasn't a rev- a revenue play. It was, it was like a brand building. And, and I love the fact that FullStory especially in those early days, um, we had founders that were so completely dedicated to building brand.
And even if it wasn't always super easy to articulate the value of it or measure it, like you don't have the same sort of like K factor type kind of, the- there's all sorts of like viral metrics that people use in consumer, uh, applications when you're doing the B2C space. It, it's just not as much of a thing in, in B2B and it's harder to, to, uh, articulate just how important it is that people of all, you know, in all organizations, all shapes and sizes, because you don't know who they're talking to. Like, it's great that they get in the product.
And so I think that's actually a benefit that people don't talk about a lot because we do tend to talk about, like, it's great because you can sift through and, you know, you just bring the people into the, the pipeline that you really care about, that you know are gonna spend money, but there really is real value just because it's hard to quantify people tend to dismiss it. And I actually think that was a huge part of, of the growth story of FullStory. That was long, but I think that I kind of articulated it. I don't know.
Yeah. No, I think it's great.
I think it's like, um ... Yeah, I think there's, 'cause you said so many things just there that I'm like, okay, I want to talk about every single one of those things. Um, one, yeah, the whole story of attribution, separate podcast.
Love to have you come on for like a second follow up on that one 'cause it's-
I'm gonna, I'm gonna call in sick that day, I'll be honest. It's not gonna be-
... I do not want to talk ... I'm just kidding.
Cool. I'm like, I just, it's like exhausting. It's just exhausting 'cause I think that there's like the core people like us, the roots, like we get it. Attribution is a joke.
But unfortunately, the people that, um, pay you don't-
... and so your still-
Obviously the people that, the people that allocate budget, you know.
Right. The people that allocate budget, the people that, um, you know, complete your payroll, the board that funds your company, whatever it is, like, are the people that you're still trying to convince that like, even if you have multi touch attribution, the things that are actually meaningful or impactful, and putting people into a buying mode are conversations that are happening organically-
... on social, or on DMs, on LinkedIn, or in one of the 50,000 Slack communities that has popped up during the middle of this pandemic. Or, I don't know, maybe you texted a friend, almost always, when I buy new software, I'm like, I have a group of friends. "Hey, here's my problem, anybody, who's got a solution? What's your software? What are you using?"
1000%. So it's funny, I have a Slack group of, of, you know, it's like not your typical professional Slack group or whatever. It's, it's like a, a Slack group of friends that work in growth. And you know, that's the kind of thing where I have a question around tooling, like I go to them. Funny anecdote, and again, I apologize in advance to the salespeople listen to this, or, um, yeah, I mean, you know, anyone that's feeding the sales people.
But, but it's, it's, it's like a good, I think, articulation or good example, the point you're, you just made, which is, um, you know, I'm speaking with a technology vendor next week, and I'm doing it as a favor to a friend who is, uh, an investor there, and he, he is really excited by this technology. I check it out, I'm like, "Man, this is actually really cool. I'm excited to talk to them." Well, I come to find out like, I've gotten like three emails from their sales reps and I have never even, I don't think I've ever opened them, you know?
And so it's interesting, because like, that is actually a much better example, how I personally evaluate tools and technologies is like, it's somebody I know, or it's somebody, uh, who maybe, you know, from, from the LinkedIn sort of organizational tree, you would think I would never talk to you because they work in a completely different part of the company. And yet, you know, we talk all the time, like, it's that, that-
... that is a really important, um, you know, often difficult to measure dynamic that I think is more common than, than people think.
Exactly. And to tie it back to the attribution soapbox, if you were looking at your growth model for the last two quarters, and trying to look at it by a chain source, and it says, oh, well, paid is driving, you know, X percent, so we need to spend more money on paid, we need to do, we need to try more channels, we need to test more mediums, whatever it is, right? Content types, et cetera. Like the list goes on.
Then your whole team is scrambling internally to figure out how to leverage more paid, whatever that means for your business and nobody's commenting on Slack, nobody's like answering DMs, you're not involved in communities.
And then you're losing. Right? But it's not trackable, so-
Everything's organic, though, isn't it? Like it, it's like if you got-
I- I'm yet to go, so I'm yet to go to a place where they're just like, look at this incredibly varied, uh, you know, lead source chart. I'm like, it's always just this-
... this pie where there's a sliver of everything that's not organic, and it's like-
... what do you do with that?
And the rest of it is just-
But again, that ... Yeah.
... direct or organic.
D- direct or organic, yeah. I have, we just did marketing. I think we just sold attribution. It's just-
... just tell everyone it's organic. So, um, yeah, that's, that's been my experience for sure.
Okay, no, I love that. That was a good little rant. Um, so m- moving on from FullStory, you joined Cypress-
... and you ... Okay, before I ruin it, tell, refresh us on Cypress, you're selling primarily to engineers.
Yeah. So, um, it- it's sort of an interesting time to be in this space. Um, the- there's like, you know, if you're not, if you're not actively kind of operating within that world, then people aren't gonna be probably as, as up on the trends. But right now, there's kind of an interesting thing happening in the development world. And it's, it's what they call the shift left sort of, you know, movement, if you will, which is people are starting to test their software early and earlier. That historically-
... has been done by just QA. Like they will come in and you know, developer writes code, QA is there to check it. Now developers are actually checking their own code, testing it, um, and, and that has been a really interesting evolution because it does also change the persona. So we absolutely have, uh, QA engineers, QA analysts that are in there that are looking at the results of tests and, um, determining things. So basically, what would happen is, you know, somebody writes code, they want to understand like, what, are, are their bugs, are there other issues that they hadn't, you know, accounted for when they were writing code, because ne- code is never bug free, it's never perfect.
Um, and Cypress makes it really easy to basically automate your browser to, to, to duck the test to go through it, like a user would go through it and to understand what exactly, uh, you know, what, what, what errors they could encounter. Um, and so we have seen that sort of evolution of, of, of testing generally be reflected as well in the personas that we're, we're targeting. So, um, much like the, uh, the example I'd given about, you know, for example, customer success, oh sorry, customer support, not being probably the primary buyer, but a good champion of FullStory, the same thing would probably be true of QA, in this, in this instance, where we see, you know, a lot of end users that are on the QA side of the house.
But, uh, frankly, it, it is, um, really beneficial for us to just get in front of engineers that are writing code, because they want to test their own code, they want to understand it. Um, and that tends to be where we, we operate the best. And, uh, you know, I think I mentioned this already, but, but if you are interested in product lead growth, I feel like kind of a commercial open source companies, it's about as PLG as it gets, because you really like, B2B, or I guess it's like B2D2B, like your business to developer to business, because it's almost always going to be an acquisition play where an individual developer comes in, uses your product, loves it, adopts it, brings it into their team, and that's where the commercialization happens.
And this sounds all quite foreign to me, which is fine, we can get into growth and demand gen, which is definitely my lane in a second. But this sounds like something you're super passionate about, and very educated about, obviously, you've been there for a second, so you understand their language now. But what motivated you to move from marketing to marketers into this world where you're marketing to engineers, and you yourself are not an engineer, so obviously, there's like some type of learning out there?
Unless you just like, are an engineer in your free time, which maybe you are, I don't know.
No, I am the father to a three month old. So I am very little beyond, uh-
... beyond what I do from my, my day job, there's not a lot of other, uh, there aren't a lot of other hobbies right now. So, uh, not an engineer. Um, I do think it's really an inte- interesting space. So, uh, it is absolutely we talked about this in the beginning, it's, it's definitely easier for me to understand the persona of like a marketer or a product person, because I've been very close to those worlds and I've been in them. And there's certainly quite a good Venn diagram there in terms of the applicability of what we're doing.
Um, what I think is really interesting about the dev space is one, um, I think there's a huge opportunity for really thoughtful, and I'm not, I'm not claiming that I'm this, but I would say I, I think thoughtful marketers, um, who are interested in, in becoming, you know, more technical in their, their understanding of things, but also, um, can, can really, um, I don't know. I mean, like, I, I think there's just a, a huge opportunity to really modernize, uh, marketing at most dev companies, and that's not-
... speaking disparagingly of them, it's just that there's a tendency for those companies to be ... You know, in, in the, the, Cypress is a very good example is, an individual founder, who's a developer, who is not approaching things necessarily from a, a marketing lens or a growth leads leads, they have just developed a really cool technology. And then right now, what we're seeing in the world of dev tools is, especially in the world of open, uh, open source. You know, 10, 12 years ago, people didn't think there was really a business opportunity there. Because they said open source software, it's free, you know, it's like, what, what, what on earth like can we do with it? There's nothing proprietary, there's nothing that, we're not selling anything.
And then there's been a whole cottage industry of, you know, services built around them, or, uh, kind of commercial offerings of them. And, and that is like a pretty nascent thing that's like, very, very recent. And so there's a huge opportunity for marketers that are interested in getting into that space, that aren't necessarily afraid of it, because I do think there's some, um, there is like this, this, uh, apprehension. Like, oh, I don't know developers, I don't ... and that's a real concern. I mean, I think that you can see bad examples where, clearly it's like marketers come in with a marketers hat on and they, they-
... put out something that's really, what are the you'd say, cringy. Uh, I mean, it's like, I- I- it's here I am, like, you know, mid 30s really far removed from, from that generation. But, um, but that is something that like, I think, is really an exciting opportunity, um, because there is such a, a, a desire from a lot of these companies to start to really build this up. And I would say that like, the technology themselves, like the tech- the, you know, very technical companies, I think there's also a tendency, and I don't know, this is completely anecdotal. But I think there's a tendency from these sort of dev focused companies or dev core, like, you know, that, that's where they are, they tend to have really great data. Like, I mean, and again-
... this is, this is just anecdotal. But like, I, I've, I've found that it is much easier as a marketer, um, to, you know, to, to get into a data warehouse and actually get, get the data that I really need because everything's being tracked, everything's being, being, um, being monitored that way. And so I, you know, there's, there's a, there's a handful of reasons, I guess, to be excited about it, but I just think about it as it's, it's probably right now a lot like, you know, original SaaS marketing felt early 2000s. Like, it's-
... it's kind of wild west, there's a lot of opportunities out there. And a lot of these companies are looking to hire people that are smart and willing to, to, um, you know, market to developers in a way that's thoughtful and, and good, so.
Yeah, yeah. And speaking of, marketing to developers in a way that's thought and good, I ca only imagine-
Thoughtful and good, yeah.
... thoughtful and good. I mean, those are the requirements.
That's like, my, my tagline there.
[laughs], we'll make sure and add that to the episode notes.
Please do not.
[laughs]. I'm kidding. 50% of what I say is always a terrible mom joke, so don't judge.
No, that's ... your good.
[laughs]. So, okay, moving from FullStory to Cypress, obviously, your personas wildly different-
... which means your go to market strategy has to be basically completely opposite of everything that you found success doing at FullStory, am I wrong?
Um, I don't know, I don't know that it's, that, that, that might not be totally true. I, I, I would say that it would be completely the opposite of, and again, I hope this isn't disparaging of anybody listening. But like, I, I would say, it's probably the completely opposite of like, the old just corporate, like, um, gosh, like just the jargony, SaaS marketing that some of you, like we all just look at and we're just like, oh, gosh, like this is just-
... we're still, we're still doing this. Like, we're still using these buzzwor- buzzwords and like, like you just really have to cut through the crap. Uh, and, and I feel like-
Right. Because engineers just aren't gonna respond to that, like they will go-
... they will not even see it.
Right? Completely black-
... like gloss over while they're scrolling through, right? Will not see it.
100%. Yeah, we're not doing it, but like, we're not doing, uh, you know, seven ways to find a bug and you're ... like, that's just not gonna resonate. Like, that's not gonna, gonna-
Right. So SEO-
Uh, and it's because of-
... SEO is not a priority for engineers. Right? Like-
Well, kinda. So it's interesting. So content marketing, that successful, looks very different. It's not-
Um, yeah, yeah. It's, it's not the like, uh, transactional white paper where like, it's like, I have a lead capture and I, I want to just get all these people to download this kind of like meaningless PDF with font size 36, text on them, because I'm not really saying anything. Like it's not that, what it actually is, is documentation. And that's like one of the biggest things that I think for marketers, it's really surprising when you enter the, uh, dev tools world that the best marketing, the best content marketing is actually having fantastic documentation, which you will probably not be writing as a marketer, because documentation is going to be written by a technical team.
And so you end up, um, nece- it's, it's become really necessary to partner very closely with other parts of the organization, because you really do lean on each other. Marketing has to have a distribution mind, we put the scaffolding around these things and say, great, we have fantastic content, we have fantastic documentation, how do we get this out to more and more people, and that's where you can get creative. You can do webinars based off of your new doc's, you could do, uh, YouTube videos, but it is, like the key is to be authentically, uh, educational.
And I think a lot of marketers would find that to be a jarring transition, because you can't just, um, you know, throw some ideas down in a white paper, package it up with some nice graphics and say like content, because people won't engage with it. And they don't, they don't care about it. Um, so that's what I'd say, and I, I try to be like, I don't want to be overly general. But I mean, it does seem to be very true, uh, for the most part. Like, I just don't think developers have the same tolerance for that stuff. And I think that as a marketer, when we get marketing correspondence, like we kind of like we can play the game, we get it, you know-
... but, but we don't find that much value there, but we tend to be a little bit more sympathetic-
... because you know what the marketers are doing, I don't think that's the case with developers.
Exactly, right? Like even myself, I will say, I think I'm the worst at like, false clicks on ads because when I see an ad, whether it's B2B or B2C, whatever, I am like, from the moment it comes up in my feed, just like hypercritical, right? Like I'm trying to take myself third party and like read through their strategy and figure out like, why am I being targeted and what's the end goal and then like, I try to predict what's going to be on the other side of the click. So before I click the ad, I like, I know I'm weird, but it's because I do this all day. So of course like I just want to figure out, break down other people's strategies and figure out what I think they're doing really well and what I think I could steal or borrow and enhance and engineers just don't care.
[laughs]. You know, Kaylee, there's like some marketer out there that's like super excited by this incredible click through rate on their ads that they're just like, but they don't convert after that, what happened?
And it's all because of you. Yeah.
It's me. 100%.
Um, no, I guess I do the same thing. I do the same thing. Yeah, I, I do think that, that is a big difference, right? Like, it's just the playbook is just very different.
Um, and the content that resonates is different. And, uh, certainly the channels that work, uh-
Doesn't say exactly, and where they hang out, right? Where they hang out-
... is totally different. These people are probably on like, Reddit forums like mad.
Y- and yeah, but let me just say, um, as somebody who has boxed that, like, be careful with, with, with doing paid advertising on Reddit because you could really-
Oh, not paid. I think you have to like really embed yourself, right?
Like you, like-
... not, maybe not you because you're not like their counterpart, but like, you would almost need to hire, um, an engineer to be almost like a liaison between you and marketing. And that person can provide like, thoughtful, leadership based content on Reddit and be like an individual contributor for your brand.
Yeah. So the way that we've actually, that's a good, good kind of segue. So the way that we do that is, it's again, because it's like, people really can sniff it out if they, if they feel like there's some sort of ... and, and then like, we try to be respectful of the fact that like, look, we've got a good product and we think that, you know, engineers that understand it, they, they, they get it, they like it, they use it.
So it's like, well, what, what is kind of the charter of marketing? And, and what ends up happening is, you know, we say we've got this really great organic community, we need to be able to harness that. And our goal is not to like convince people, it's to actually just enable them by giving them like the best educational materials they could possibly find on the internet-
... like it shouldn't come from another, another team, it should come from Cypress. And so by doing that, like we have an ambassador network, and those are people that are not employed by the company, but they are, um, really excited Cypress users, and they get some perks and some benefits, but we, we don't tell them, we don't put them on a quota to say, you need to mention us this many times or anything like that. Because again, the inauthenticity I think, would be very apparent to people. And so-
... we do see like in Reddit, like that's a great example. We never put anybody up to it, but I think what, what ends up happening and marketers, we don't like this necessarily, because it's uncomfortable. We're not, we're not as in control, but we basically are saying the hypothesis is, give people the right content, the right information and if you know that those folks are already hanging out, in, you know, whatever programming subreddits there, there are, um, and, and a question comes up about Cypress, they're going to be able to speak to it. And they're not going to say, you know, as a paid representative of, of Cypress, because they're not, like they're just, they're an, an excited Cypress user.
And of course, they disclose like, oh, I'm a Cypress investor, but even that has more credibility, because we're not paying them, they're, they're just legitimately convinced, like, hey, it's a great product, I liked promoting it, I like talking about it. I like, you know, all that. And so, um, yeah, authenticity definitely ends up being key there. And, and the way that we engage with the community is something that we're, we're working on, um, to be even better at. We're, we're making huge investments.
In fact, that would be like, you know, another big difference that we've like noticed is like, we're building out the community marketing function, not a community management function, like a community marketing function, which is to grow a community, centralize a community, so that people that have the best information, which we try to supply-
... can interact with each other and can kind of like, collectively understand more about the product, use it better, um, and, and ultimately have more success. And, and that's a big investment for us right now.
Yeah, absolutely. Right? And building this community also has been like, obviously, it's ton, tons of benefits directly for your business, but benefits that are maybe less obvious, or that you guys on the end, like receiving end of this have a continual daily feedback loop, not only for your product, but for topics that are hot in the space-
... with these engineers that can fuel other content pieces that are relevant and not fluffy, um, or documentation pieces that people want to know more about, right? It, it's very cyclical, um, direct feedback on a loop because I feel like talking to customers is said a lot, but it's so vague. And so it's like, oh okay, cool, we'll set up a case study Zoom, like once a month, but that feedback loop today needs to be significantly more frequent, because the market like not only for engineers, but for everybody in SaaS is changing so quickly, like talking to a customer once a month isn't going to get you there. But-
... forming and fostering this collaborative community where the feedback loop is often and valid, and very thoughtful, and people that care about, you know, building up your brand and your product, as well as furthering their own career growth is like, monumental.
So I'm gonna probably seem like a corporate shill at this point. Like, I'm just like, I don't know if there's a lobbying body that's trying to get marketers to, to go into the dev tool space, but I'm gonna go ahead and ... oh, I just dropped my AirPod. Uh, but I'm going to go ahead and, and say it anyway, because you, you mentioned it. So one of the coolest benefits that you get, like you, you mentioned, we, we always had this plan to just talk to customers.
And I think the challenge is like people talk to customers, it's never, it's very rarely centralized in a place that everyone's accessing the same information, like you don't really ever know like what people are talking about. The beauty of open source, uh, particularly, is that like, GitHub is a fantastic place to just find out what people want you to build and complain about.
And, you know, and if something's going poorly, because it's, it is a, an open platform where people are just, you know, they, they go on there, they, they open new issues, and they, they, in the project to actually say, like, why are you not supporting this? Or like, this bug is really annoying. And then people thumbs up it.
And you don't really have that. I mean, like, I know of a couple companies that have like public roadmaps and people can thumbs up things. And like that's, that's more common, but like, you're, you just don't get it at that scale. And so that's actually the beauty of GitHub is, it's like, you want to talk about centralized product feedback and it's not perfect, but it's like, you're going to know what people want you to build, because they're going to talk about it. And, and they're going to do it very publicly in the open-
... um, and that is a huge benefit because it's like, there's not a, there's not really a question as to what the things are that people are clamoring for. It's, it's right there in front of you. It's hard to miss.
Yeah, exactly. A- and yeah, and I think it just goes back to like building, if you're building a product that's built, customer first or customer led, as well as product lead, right?
Like this customer led motion too, then it's going to become more sticky. People are going to love you more. They will naturally evangelize you whether they're part of this ambassador community or not. And it's just like a very, like cyclical flywheel nature for growth.
Cool. So let's dive in to PLD, 'cause that seems to be-
Yes, let's do it.
... something top of mind for you, and something that you have tons of experience in. Um, FullStory was PLG, as well.
Yeah, it was like interesting, because the, the, Blake Bartlett from OpenView coined the term back in, I don't know, maybe 2017. I actually don't know when that was. So it was like not a thing that people were talking about at the time, per se, but people were doing it, right? It was just like early, basically it was for, for SaaS companies that didn't have or didn't want a sales team at the time, right? And it was just like, let's make this really easy for people to, um, to, to buy. You know, obviously works only with, uh, products that are, you know, not very expensive, uh-
... initially, right? Because you don't, you don't see people swiping credit cards for like $15,000 a month software purchase.
Your ATB needs to be fairly small.
Right, right. And so, um, yeah. So FullStory, when I first joined, that was, that was the case. Um, uh, the project, the, the product was a lot more, it was a lot, uh, it was more limited than what it is today. It was, it was basically standard session replay, really high quality session replay, but, but still not, uh, not what it is today. And so it was, it was, it made sense, uh, to start with that motion. But yeah, but that gradually they went up market.
Yeah, absolutely. Right. And so that created a double funnel for them, um, but now joining Cypress, it's open source, which is a little different, but still PLP.
So like, talk to us about that and what that means.
Yeah. I mean, I think I already said it and, and people that have talked to me about it, have heard me say this a lot, but it's, it's, you know, open source really does feel like kind of the ultimate, uh, PLG. And, and there's a couple of reasons for that. So the first one is, um, you know, your product, so in this, in this example, right? We've got, and I should maybe step back for a second, explain that. So we've got our open source, what we call our test runner, right?
... they're getting no value from our freemium product. And so, you know, we don't know who those people are, we don't have telemetry, like that's one of the challenges is you have a very opaque top of funnel, you know how many monthly installs you get, and that's about it.
And so it's going to be incumbent upon you as a marketer, or if you're working in products, or maybe in a growth function, depending on how the, the organization, uh, works, like it's gonna be up to you to find ways that are really creative, to get, uh, basically get people to know about your commercial offering or your freemium offering, and then get them to come into it.
And so that is incredibly, like the fact that you don't know who these people are and you can't just spin up an outreach campaign for sales means that like, you have to do a lot of things in the product, you have to promote things that are relevant in the open source, uh, you know, project to, to let people know like, hey, there's more to this, or to drive them back to your website so that when they come back to the website, they become informed about this additional offering.
So our goal is to get everybody into the product. And then, uh, from there, you know, we have to make it really an optimal experience so that they can, can, they can self serve, and then they can, uh, get routed down the proper funnel, uh, depending on, on, you know, different criteria about them.
And where does that handoff process happen from marketing to whoever's next in line?
Like where in the [inaudible 00:35:17], in their progression of qualification?
Yeah, it's, it's a good question. Um, we worked really, really cross functionally as a go to market team. So we've got, you know, marketing, sales, success product growth, um, you know. A- and so there, there are several folks that are involved in that process. Um, basically, our flow is, you know, we have people that are very top of the funnel, but th- those are the people that are actually getting into the open source project. And they're installing it. And that's, um, that is primarily a, a function of work that's done in the ecosystem by the, our developer experience team. And so that's, that goes back to like word of mouth, right?
So that's happening at the very top of the funnel. And then marketing is really focusing and saying, okay, once people sign up, um, for our dashboard, or like, once, once they sign up for the, they, they install the open source, uh, project, like where can we work with other teams internally to ensure that like, the documentation they're sending, they're, they're sent back to from our open source product is, uh, also informing them about this other thing, right?
So that might be they get driven back to a dock, and it, it would be relevant for us to say, "Hey, did you know that also there's this, this, uh, great dashboard product that will allow you to see X, Y and Z?" Things like that, that's a minor part of what we do, a lot more of what we're focused on is when somebody gets into the door, they sign up for the, the, like basically we call it a trial, but really, they can use it, uh, in perpetuity for free. So somebody signs up, uh, we qualify them with some thermographic data that we get from Clearbit. So we understand like, from an account standpoint, like how, how do we view them, um, in, in terms of their ability to probably pay us what would, what would make sense for them to actually talk to sales.
Um, and so that is kind of the, the, the point of, of bifurcation, right? Where like, they will either go the growth route, where they're going to self serve, or they're going to go the, uh, the sales route, where sales will reach out to them, but they can still use the product as much as they want free. Again, PLG, we want them using the product, we want them to qualify, like self qualify as well.
Um, and so you ask the question about the handoff, it's not a perfect handoff in any of those situations, because there's always work happening between multiple parties. But I would say we work closely with the product growth team to ensure that we understand what's happening, the onboarding, and, and offer, you know, ideas and, and experiments, and we work together with, with product growth to ensure that those things are happening to improve activation, to get people down, you know, in- into the funnel further down. Um, but then kind of once they get into the product, and they start using things, we view that more as a function of product at that point. They've, they've got a, um, product, it's figuring out how to push them along the way.
Marketing is working with products to say, okay, where are the key points where we might want to give them a tool tip, or send them an email, or something that can, can, again, surface good educational materials based on what we know about them. Uh, on the other side of the house, the, the sales side, like marketing works with rev ops. Uh, and again, this would look different at every company. But we work with our rev ops team, which will have, you know, marketing ops and things like that in it, uh, to ensure that when somebody has, uh, come through, they've signed up, we view them in as being, um, you know, at least firmographically like relevant.
Meaning like for us, it would be like over, over 250 employees, like that's a good, that's a good, uh, bar for them to clear to be considered for this kind of sales, uh, funnel. But they go in, but our ideal scenario, and what we're working toward is ultimately getting these people to again, be able to adopt the product on their own, and then reach kind of this activation point, an, an, an, an activation metric. If you're familiar with PLG, then it's kind of the core of it, is, it's sort of this, uh, one time thing that happens when, when people realize the value of your product. And that's the precise point where you want them to speak to sales. And so when they get to that point, uh, and again, they meet the firmographic criteria-
... that's when they're, they're going to be sent over to sales to work. And again, marketing will always be there in a supporting role, because these people are going to be doing things in the product and there will be marketing triggers that happen as a result of that, but they're going to still be working for sales.
Exactly. No, that's really good. And also called your aha moment, right? To that last piece-
... that you talked about.
A lot of people also refer to it as an aha moment.
Yeah. And I think that means-
And it's, it, it ...
No, I don't have anything more. I was, I was just agreeing multiple times, yes.
Me too. Let's just agree on top of each other. Um, something like that and we just got another riff.
Um, I think, um, to segue though, back into demand gen and I understand your growth marketing now, so maybe even just like for the people, um, the difference in your eyes for growth, marketing and demand gen to set the stage-
... because then I want to work into a piece where we can riff on, um, how demand gen plays a part in PLG.
Yeah, so I think the easiest way to think about the difference between like, uh, and, and everyone's gonna have a different definition. Um, of course, I think mine's the best-
... but I could be wrong. Yeah, I could ... I think that the, the real difference is that in a traditional sales or a marketing led, uh, environment, so if you look at like the Mark Meadows of the world, or like any of the, the sort of like legacy, you know, huge tech companies where these budgets are, where they're, sorry, the, they, um, you- you know, ASP is really, really high, and it, it's always going to be a sales, uh, sales will be closing the deal. Where that's true, like, that's where demand generation becomes so important.
And that's, that's, you know, again, we, we talked about white papers, uh, suits like downloadable collateral content syndication. Um, and the, the, the difference is, you know, when you think about top of funnel, middle of the funnel, bottom of funnel, that's very traditional demand gen, you're thinking about things like, okay, a webinar lead, like how do we, you know, you're talking about lead scoring. And, and the end goal is not typically, uh, I mean, every marketer wants this to be true, but the end goal of those activities is not typically to just like immediately have a close, right?
Like, you're trying to get them to a point where they're talking to sales, and then, you know, then opportunities open and there's some pipelines associated with it. That is a completely different world. And yet the, the, the skill is really transferable because the difference is, when you're, when you're PLG, you, your product is a channel, and you should be thinking about it as a channel. So in the same way you might do, for example, paid ads, or content syndication, or whatever, you think about that, as a channel, like might operate on. Uh, for us, we want to get everybody into the product.
And so for, like, y- you know, where that ends up looking really different, it's like, for us a white paper doesn't really make a lot of sense, because a white paper is a piece of collateral that like, you could say, a number of things that are somewhat related, but it doesn't actually serve us in getting the people into the product. I'm not saying that couldn't happen, but it's just, it's not ultimately what we're, like, you, you know, it's got this idea like, well, top of funnel, we need to inform them very generic, like in generic terms about the industry maybe. And, and, and that's just not our mindset at all, we need to get them into our product, and the barrier to get into the product is so incredibly low-
... that it always makes sense to try to push them there. If you believe the, the product, can, you know, if, if, if the value is self evident.
And so, what, how that manifests like differently, because I know people are still like, okay, Jordan, but what does that actually mean for me? The activities you're doing are different, um, but, but more importantly, and, and probably more, uh, obvious is the metrics are different and the things you care about are different. Like we don't talk in terms of MQLs and SQLs. Um, for us, everything is about PQO-
... and that goes back to this notion that a product qualified lead is like, if you're getting everybody in the door, and you're bringing them from, you know, whether it is like if you were doing paid ads, sure, you could do that. I think it's, it's the, the economics almost never worked out well for, for PLG, but that's a whole other thing. But if you're, you know, whatever you're doing, you're getting people into the product. And then once they get in the product, the product is the great equalizer. Like it's not the subjective thing where an SDR who has a, there's kind of a conflict of interest, right?
Like an SDR really wants that to go over the fence to sales, because they want credit for it and their comp is based on that. Sales doesn't want to accept these things or, or qualify them because they're like, I don't want to be accountable for that pipeline. So the SDR is like-
... maybe if I threw this over at 4:00 on a Friday, they'll just be like, okay. Um, that's not at all how it works because that, that is like a very subjective thing where you're asking for a lot of people's opinions. And I know what we would say, like well, no, a balance is not subjective. But we've, we've all seen how you can kind of fudge those things.
With, with a PQL, what you've basically said is like, there is an objective, absolute truth, which is, if somebody PQLs it's because they've done certain things in the product. And that is an amazing tool that if you can work toward it, and we're still working toward that being like our actual sales motion, sales, in a PQL model, it's just like incredible, because, oh sorry, in a PLG model because they're always working things of similar quality. Like it's, it doesn't vary the way that it would in a, in a traditional marketing lead or sales lead thing where it's like, marketing does a white paper, somebody signs up for it, uh, they get an email from a sales rep.
And the, these people are like, I just downloaded it, because I wanted to know what the 13 and a half reasons that I should buy your software is or whatever it is that you're, you know, you're hawking, right? So I speak, I mean, I'm, I'm obviously, um, again, not being disparaging of it, I clearly have a preference for which motion I, I would personally want to be working at. But that is-
Yeah. Only, only slightly biased in your feedback, but it's fine-
... we're here for your hot takes, it's okay.
I, I have, I've been in both roles and I'm just telling you, the, um, there's something to this, uh, getting people to the product. And, um, and, and, and so that's, that's kind of where I, I land on it. So yeah, those are the main differences, I would say. I think that the, the object is, is, is very different.
And so, go, to go back to the question I wanted to lead to, I think you've just answered it in saying that demand gen doesn't belong in a PLG model, because they have the wrong mindset. But I'll let you rebuttal.
No, I actually don't agree with that. No. So I, okay.
I think ... No, I think that this is a really good question, because it's the same question, to me it feels very similar to right now there's always this debate that people like, people like to crap on the idea of sales. Can I say that on this podcast? Can I say that? People crap on ideas.
Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I don't know-
We got somebody, we had somebody curse a couple times, we had to mark the episode as explicit. So crap, I think is still like PG, you're fine.
Okay. I like to be PG 13. I'm not gonna go beyond that.
But ... I'm just kidding.
So, um, so, [laughs], so, no, this is a great question. Because like, people ask this, people always crap on the idea of sales at a pro- uh, product lead growth company. And that's like such a, that's such a bogus idea, like sales isn't I- in- incredibly important, especially [inaudible 00:46:07].
In fact, I would, I would argue that like you have a very different sales, um, like that, the persona and like the, the, the, the treats of that salesperson, it's, it's different. Um, but I think it's a great sales role and I think it's like, it, it requires some different modes of thinking.
I feel like its kind of an analog to that where like on the marketing side people are like, well then, does that mean just demand gen doesn't, doesn't, doesn't matter? And I would say emphatically no, it's a different function, in my opinion, generally. Um, and the value of it and where it becomes really, um, similar is that if you were to be in a, in a company like Cypress, where there's a like learn and expand is the motion.
And that's true of a lot of PLG companies, so you bring people in at generally low ASC, or, uh, ACBs or ASBs, and-
Or, to interject, even relevant at sales led companies as well. But go ahead.
Totally. Yeah. I mean, this is like, and you'll see all flavors of it, right? It's, there, there's certainly not like a, a, a perfect delineation between the motions. But I- if you're at a company that, that basically brings people in at low price points, and then your goal is to, particularly if they're good network effects, like the value of that product increases as, uh, more people start using it internally. Uh, and that's true, in some respects. I would, I think it's true of Cypress, uh, I guess I'm debating on that. I don't know. So if that were to happen, then you have a very traditional ish, I'll say, traditional looking demand gen need, because what would end up happening is you spend a lot of time and resources on the post sale.
And that's like, you've gotten somebody in the door through the product, they've converted. Awesome. Now the question becomes, so how do we get them to go from paying us $300 a month to 3000 or $30,000 a month? And that actually is where tra- traditional dimension looks, looks good. And, and, and it's important. And it's because for us, it's pretty easy for an end user to be able to swipe a credit card for a couple 100 bucks a month, and that's that individual developer.
But when we start talking about expanding Cypress from a team of 12, to a team of 100, or multiple teams of, you know, dozens of people a piece, that absolutely does go back to the kind of the ToFu, MoFu, BoFu, sort of like demand gen, like there's, there's these different personas. Like you've got to be able to articulate the value to the management level, which is a very different value prop.
Like they care about efficiency, and, and how many hours of developer time they're going to save, that is really valuable. And that does look a lot, look, look more like demand gen. And that's where you see like the ABM function become really relevant, where you could say, we're not going to be like doing a lot of the cold demand gen just to get any, any old company to come in the door with a white paper, but we could do something where we have a company that's paying us 100, 200 bucks a month, they're thrown into an ABM sequence where it's like, we're gonna, we're gonna try to now reach their management team.
And that's where we would have been using some white papers and some other collateral. So again, I don't want the, the takeaway to be like demand gen sucks and no one should be doing it, it's just that it is, it is put at a, at a different place in the, the, the process. And that's why it's so important to understand the go to market motion, and understand why you do the things you do and, and when you do them.
Because in a PLG company where you're learning and expanding, that happens much later in the process, but it's arguably more valuable.
Yeah, exactly. Right? Because it's, especially if you're only getting, you know, a handful of people in on initial deal, but then the expansion is 3X to 4X their initial like ACB that they're paying you, then yes, 100%, right?
You need to have it to be a gen function. It's just different because most demand gen functions are pre sale, not post.
But it's still relevant, right?
Exactly. And that's not, that's just the, the-
The notions are generally the same-
... but super interesting.
Yeah. Yeah. Just a paradigm shift.
Yeah. And so that means that you as the growth marketing role play liaison for pre sale and post sale.
Yeah. I mean, we're a small company. So like leading growth-
... marketing here kind of encompasses both. Like we work, I, I work a lot, I work very closely with our sales team, I work very closely with our success team, I work very closely with our product team. Um, we are hiring by the way, in the growth function. So if you're listening to this and you want to come in as a, I don't if I'm allowed to do that, Kaylee, am I allowed to, am I allowed to do that?
Yeah, low key. Plug, plug your shit. I brought you for that, so.
Hey, well, yeah. We're, yeah, we are, we're hiring a lot of roles, um, if anything I said resonated with you, uh, please reach out because we are hiring right now. I think, a, uh, a, a growth marketing lead. So, um, so anyway, the, yeah, I mean, I- it's, uh, gosh, I got lost in my own thoughts. Just, you know, uh, talking about my own company here.
Yes, you were closely at the demand gen team.
[laughs], oh, yes.
That's for sure. [laughs].
Yeah, well, we are the demand gen team really. So, so demand gen right now does reporting to growth marketing, um, and that is something that we'll probably continue to do because the reality is that, where so many companies are trying to kind of establish like guardrails and silos, like it's really important, I think, to have a like, to, to not view it as like, this is like post sale is only me. And in fact, we all talk and we have like our flowcharts, where we combine all of our stuff together so we can see from a user's perspective, like, what would they be experiencing along the way from the time that they're pre sale to post sale?
And a lot of times, we're like, that doesn't make any sense. Like, why are we, you know, we're asking these questions, we already ask them that pre, you know, pre sale, like we should change that. And that, that goes back to why it's important to work collaboratively with, uh, the other functional areas. So yeah, we'll always work closely with demand gen, as well. Demand gen will probably always be a function of growth marketing here. Um, and, uh, and you could probably interchange the two, the only reason why I think growth gets, gets, uh, the, the, the highlight is because it's, it's, you know, further off the [inaudible 00:51:39].
... it's broader by nature as well.
I think the, uh, lay of responsibility for growth is broader than-
... the function of dimension.
Yeah. But it's different everywhere, right? Because some companies also encompass mocks under dimension. So it just depends I think on-
... the stage of growth, but I do still think regardless, g- growth in general is a, is a broader umbrella.
Yeah, I think that's a, that's a fair, uh, characterization. Yeah.
Cool. So with that, um, my last question that I always ask guests is, um, who is another marketer that you're following in the space? Maybe you've read their book, you listen to their podcast, you like what they tweet, something, um, that people listening can go and listen to them, subscribe, buy their book, et cetera.
Mm, I think I, I speak for probably like 90% of the people listening this podcast in saying that, uh, you know, like, most of my podcast listening is like true crime, people getting murdered or something terrible like that.
So, so I would say ... No, I don't actually do that. I, I, well, what I would say is like, I think there's some teams that I really love and respect and like, on a like, on a personal level, great people. I, I've always, I mean, I think at this point people think I'm a Clearbit spokesperson, 'cause I've used them in several companies, really like them.
Uh, I think Nick Wentz over there, fantastic person, great marketer. Um, you know, they've got just an incredible team. And I'm always, I, you know, for years, I've been talking to them about just, you know, Matt Sornson, one of their co-founders, like same thing, just like, hey, guys, can I, can I steal your ideas? Can I pick your brains a little bit?
So I, I think they're fantastic to follow. I think if you did ... they don't have a podcast or anything like that, but I would just say if you just pay attention to the way that they launch products.
Uh, I love their newsletter. I think that just like top to bottom world class marketing team, um, so huge fans of theirs. And then, um, yeah. I mean, like I, I, I guess that's the one that comes to mind, I would say. Um, and I think that, uh, there, there are obviously a lot of great, great folks in the space. And I, I could probably spend an hour just doing shout outs, but I won't annoy people by doing that. So I would say-
Yeah, it's, it's good.
Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
This is a, this is a first for Clearbit shout out, so we'll take it.
Oh, great. Great.
And we'll put it in the show notes, if anybody wants to go follow those guys, I'll find their LinkedIn profiles and link it up so you can follow. And if people want to keep up with you, where's the best place for them to do so?
Uh, I'm, I'm probably just putting like snarky comments on LinkedIn-
... influencer posts or something like that. So you could just find me on LinkedIn. Um, and, uh, yeah, that's, that's, that's, uh, probably the best place.
Perfect. Yeah. So if you want snarky comments, hot takes, turn to your guy, we'll link up his profile in the-
... show notes as well.
Yeah, very anti-influencer stuff here. So, um, you know-
... again, were, we keep it PG 13. Yep.
Solid. Awesome. Well, thank you for coming on. Thank you for your time.
Thank you for everybody listening, and we'll see you on the next episode.